Bloomington, IN – Defending Honda National Midget champion Christopher Bell experienced one of the toughest nights of his career on Thursday, as he flipped during his heat race at Lincoln Park Speedway and was done for the night, feeling the effects of a wicked tumble. He wasted no time rebounding, as he topped Friday’s 30-lap Round 2 of “Indiana Midget Week” at Bloomington Speedway.
Damion Gardner jumped from the pole to the lead, but Bell was strong on the bottom and moved from row three to catch him as the first caution flew on lap five for Tanner Thorson, who had set ProSource Fast Time and was running inside the top-six.
On the restart, Gardner slipped up off the bottom in turn-four and opened the door for Bell, who grabbed the lead and took off.
After a red flag on lap twelve, Bell again opened up his lead as Bryan Clauson had moved up to the top-three and was gaining ground on Bell’s teammate, Rico Abreu, for second. Meanwhile, Thorson was slicing back through the field and had entered the top-ten.
The race took a major turn with three to go as top-ten runner Alex Bright jumped the cushion and spun in turn-three, setting up a crucial restart. Clauson jumped to the top and roared by Abreu for the runner-up spot, just as the yellow lights came on again with two to go.
On the final restart, Bell bobbled on the bottom through turns one and two, shoving the nose and allowing Clauson to get a major run up to his outside down the backstretch. Bell recovered, though, and grabbed the bottom off turn-four to hold onto his lead and take his second win of the year in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #71 Bullet/Speedway Toyota. Bell already has nine career National Midget wins, tying him for 71st all-time with open wheel greats Chuck Gurney, Billy Boat, and Tony Elliott.
“I felt like I had to come back and do that for my team tonight. They were pretty upset with me after last night, so I owed it to them. I was able to stick the bottom really well from the start, but this place is really tricky. It’s so easy to get tight down there and lose the nose. I almost gave it away on the green-white-checkered, but luckily I was able to get enough drive off to hold him off. I’m feeling pretty sore still from last night, but not too bad,” Bell said.
On the final corner, Clauson slipped up and allowed Abreu to steal the second spot back, as the St. Helena, California driver strengthened his National point lead once again while taking the “Indiana Midget Week” lead in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #97 Bullet/Speedway Toyota, despite racing with hardware in his shoulder from a broken collar bone sustained three weeks ago.
“I’m just focused on putting a whole night together and getting through this week. I’m not gonna complain about the injury, but there’s no need to do something stupid right now. It’s a long season and I have a lot of races left to run. It was technical, and I’ve worked so much on being patient and running a mature race on nights like tonight. I’ve got to finish races, and it’s something I’ve worked on for nights like tonight. Those long runs get me pretty sore and it’s tough to hang on, but we have great cars and I know it’s gonna be a tough week going against these guys,” Abreu said.
Clauson finished third in the Fairbury Westin Packaged Meats – Curb Records #63 Spike/Esslinger.
“I’m really mad at myself for giving up second there at the line. I tried to protect on the last corner and left the door open. I could use the top for a lap at a time, mostly because they had trouble hitting the bottom on the opening lap of a run. I used it a lot through one and two. They were just so good off the bottom, but I had to go up there and try to put myself in position if they made a mistake. He slipped up and let me get next to him, but that wasn’t enough. We’re right there putting pressure on them – we just have to find a way to beat them,” Clauson said.
Chris Windom finished fourth in the RFMS Racing – Liberty Village #3 DRC/Stanton Mopar, while Thorson finished his fine run from the back into the top-five aboard the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #67 Bullet/Speedway Toyota. Zach Daum advanced from 16th to finish sixth, earning the B&W Auto Mart “Hard Charger Award.”
USAC HONDA NATIONAL MIDGET RACE RESULTS: June 13, 2014 – Bloomington, Indiana – Bloomington Speedway –“Indiana Midget Week”
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-11.810; 2. Christopher Bell, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-11.855; 3. Alex Bright, 77, Hemler-11.869; 4. Rico Abreu, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-11.925; 5. Chris Windom, 3, RFMS-11.975; 6. Isaac Chapple, 52, Chapple-12.016; 7. Michael Pickens, 3F, RFMS-12.044; 8. Damion Gardner, 4, Klatt-12.046; 9. Bryan Clauson, 63, RKR/Curb-Agajanian-12.078; 10. Parker Price-Miller, 9P, Ronk-12.122; 11. Brady Bacon, 11, Wilke-12.169; 12. Nathan Smee, 3A, Cooper-12.174; 13. Davey Ray, 23, Light-12.250; 14. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-12.262; 15. Tracy Hines, 24, Parker-12.265; 16. Trey Marcham, 39, Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian-12.272; 17. Justin Grant, 35, Gardner-12.273; 18. Tyler Courtney, 35x, Hampton-12.304; 19. Ronnie Gardner, 68, Johnson-12.327; 20. Alex Schutte, 28, Schutte/McElwee-12.334; 21. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-12.338; 22. Dave Darland, 17, RW/Curb-Agajanian-12.368; 23. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 9K, KBR-12.371; 24. Brock Maskovich, 39B, Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian-12.398; 25. Andy Malpocker, 22, Malpocker-12.435; 26. Steve Buckwalter, 25, Buckwalter-12.491; 27. Andrew Felker, 11A, Felker-12.494; 28. James Edens, 5E, Daum-12.563; 29. Domain Ramsay, 20, Ramsay-12.574; 30. Brenden Bright, 92, Bright-12.625; 31. Seth Motsinger, 2, KBR-12.632; 32. Jaimie McKinlay, 42, Graham-12.634; 33. Leyton Kendall, 7L, KBR-12.675; 34. Ryan Criswell, 11R, R&C-12.685; 35. Jerry Coons, Jr., 37, Felker-12.693; 36. Tate Martz, 2x, Steele-12.806; 37. Tony Dimattia, 50, Dimattia-NT; 38. Danny Burke, 15, Johnson/Burke-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Daum, 2. Windom, 3. Clauson, 4. Thorson, 5. Ray, 6. Grant, 7. Ramsay, 8. Kendall, 9. Malpocker. 2:07.27
SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Darland, 2. Bell, 3. Buckwalter, 4. Price-Miller, 5. Criswell, 6. Courtney, 7. B. Bright, 8. Chapple, 9. Burke, 10. T. Thomas. NT
THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Hines, 2. K. Thomas, 3. Felker, 4. A. Bright, 5. R. Gardner, 6. Pickens, 7. Bacon, 8. Coons, 9. Motsinger. NT
FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Abreu, 2. Smee, 3. Marcham, 4. D. Gardner, 5. Edens, 6. Maskovich, 7. Schutte, 8. McKinlay, 9. Martz. NT
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Pickens, 2. Bacon, 3. Courtney, 4. Motsinger, 5. Grant, 6. Maskovich, 7. R. Gardner, 8. B. Bright, 9. T. Thomas, 10. Coons, 11. Schutte, 12. McKinlay, 13. Chapple, 14. Ramsay, 15. Edens, 16. Burke, 17. Martz, 18. Dimattia, 19. Kendall, 20. Ray, 21. Criswell. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Christopher Bell, 2. Rico Abreu, 3. Bryan Clauson, 4. Chris Windom, 5. Tanner Thorson, 6. Zach Daum, 7. Michael Pickens, 8. Damion Gardner, 9. Parker Price-Miller, 10. Tracy Hines, 11. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 12. Nathan Smee, 13. Trey Marcham, 14. Dave Darland, 15. Tyler Thomas, 16. Steve Buckwalter, 17. Seth Motsinger, 18. Justin Grant, 19. Brock Maskovich, 20. Alex Bright, 21. Tyler Courtney, 22. Brady Bacon, 23. Andrew Felker. NT
**McKinlay flipped in Heat 4. Kendall flipped in the Semi. Felker flipped on Lap 12 of the Feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-4 D. Gardner, Laps 5-30 Bell.
NEW HONDA NATIONAL MIDGET POINTS: 1-Abreu-343; 2-Bell-268; 3-Clauson-262; 4-Hines-260; 5-Thorson-240; 6-Windom-200; 7-Darland-197; 8-Felker-196; 9-Daum-186; 10-K.Thomas-176.
NEW “INDIANA MIDGET WEEK” POINTS: 1-Abreu-136; 2-Clauson-119; 3-Hines-108; 4-Darland-103; 5-Pickens-100; 6-Windom-92; 7-D.Gardner-87; 8-Thorson-79; 9-Buckwalter/Price-Miller-76.
NEXT HONDA NATIONAL MIDGET RACE: June 14 – Lawrenceburg, Indiana – Lawrenceburg Speedway – “Indiana Midget Week
Photo Credit: Rich Forman